MUNICH — Whether or not shopping for pc chips immediately from producers, reconfiguring vehicles or producing them with components lacking, automakers are having to get artistic to deal with the worldwide scarcity of semiconductors.
The scarcity, as a result of provide issues and a surge in demand for client electricals in the course of the pandemic, has hit the auto trade laborious, with thousands and thousands of automobiles worldwide not being produced as a result of vital components are lacking.
With the issue lasting longer than initially anticipated, producers together with Daimler and Volkswagen have needed to rethink manufacturing methods.
Automobile producers normally purchase components from main suppliers comparable to Bosch and Continental, which in flip purchase from suppliers additional down the chain.
In some circumstances that has led to an absence of transparency, stated Ondrej Burkacky, a senior companion at McKinsey.
“There was the fallacy of considering that you just had a alternative between two suppliers, however the reality is that they each had the chips made in the identical foundry,” he stated.
That’s now altering, in keeping with Daimler Buying Supervisor Markus Schäfer.
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The German maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles has arrange a direct line of communication with all chip suppliers, together with wafer producers in Taiwan, he stated on the IAA auto present in September.
Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess speaks of “strategic partnerships” his firm has entered into with producers in Asia.
Chip suppliers must be handled in a different way given their strategic significance to the trade, stated Stefan Bratzel from the Middle for Automotive Administration.
“You’ve seen the issues that come up if you deal with the chip corporations like different suppliers and cease the calls,” he stated.
McKinsey’s Burkacky stated carmakers ought to contemplate direct investments in manufacturing, or longer contracts with phrases of greater than 18 months.
“Not a lot of that has been carried out but,” he added.
Within the meantime, car builders are doing their half to assist producers handle the provision crunch.
Annette Danielski, chief monetary officer of Volkswagen’s trucking unit Traton, stated the corporate was attempting to clear some house on the motherboards of management techniques.
“If we modify the software program, we will use fewer semiconductors and obtain the identical performance,” she stated. “That generally takes an extended lead time as a result of the regulatory authorities intervene, however there are areas the place you may change one thing shortly.”
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Daimler depends on new designs for management items. Reasonably than utilizing one particular chip, these are designed to work with an alternate that can be utilized within the occasion of supply issues, the corporate’s head of buying Schäfer stated.
Tesla is taken into account the mannequin for this.
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The corporate reprogrammed software program inside three months in order that different much less scarce chips may very well be used, enabling the U.S. electrical carmaker to climate the disaster higher than many others.
Basic Motors has stated it can work with chip producers like Qualcomm, STM and Infineon to develop microcontrollers that mix a number of features beforehand managed by particular person chips.
“We try to create an ecosystem that’s extra resilient, extra expandable and all the time obtainable,” an organization spokesperson stated.
Some carmakers are stockpiling – or what BMW calls “gap shoring.”
The entire automobile is constructed aside from a lacking half, and may then be accomplished comparatively simply when it exhibits up.
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Different automakers are additionally utilizing this technique. Typically automobiles are delivered with out sure features managed by chips.
Semiconductors are additionally conserved for high-quality automobiles, like electrical vehicles, whereas clients face even longer wait instances for low-priced combustion engines.
That technique is slowly reaching its limits. Volkswagen just lately needed to briefly cease the manufacturing of electrical vehicles in its Zwickau plant in Germany.
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How nicely these coping methods work is just not but clear.
“The invoice can be offered in mid or late 2022, when you may see who got here out of the disaster nicely and who didn’t make it so nicely,” stated McKinsey’s Burkacky.